Friday, October 27, 2023

LH2 Era™ Liquid Hydrogen Weekly News Summary (2023-Oct-27)

Cryogenic vacuum-jacketed tank with integrated cooling channels that have a wall thickness of about 0.06 inches additively manufactured with 6061-RAM2 aluminum material (NASA)

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Myth Busting (Episode 4): Hydrogen Haters

Image created using Bing AI

This episode of hydrogen myth busting is dedicated to the source of a great deal of misinformation on the topic: hydrogen haters. And with the recent announcement of the US hydrogen hub awards, they are in full blast mode in the news, social media, and many other available venues that provide a soapbox.

It's a curiosity of human behavior that we are willing to accept the assertions of people who have no expertise in some areas, but openly challenge them in others. If our friend who has never set foot in a kitchen (except to eat) started giving us a lecture about cooking a gourmet meal, we would laugh at them. Many of us would have a similar reaction if someone who doesn't know a wrench from a hammer started giving us advice on car repair.

In contrast, it seems that anyone with a mouth or keyboard can make absurd and unsubstantiated pronouncements about hydrogen that get blindly accepted as true by some. This misinformation often gets re-posted and amplified by a bandwagon of equally unqualified sources until suddenly it becomes the assumed 'conventional wisdom'.

Types of Haters

In my experience, hydrogen haters can be categorized into four main types depending their viewpoint. You might be a hydrogen hater if:

1. It threatens your business or expertise. This may seem obvious, but it's surprising how many people don't take this into account when they listen to someone's opinion on the subject. Clearly, if the use of hydrogen represents a threat to your business model, or a better alternative to your product, you are highly incentivized to trash talk it. Some cynical types might call this marketing 101. Similarly, if it has the potential to make the expertise you've developed over a career less relevant, you might be looking for any opportunity to derail its implementation.

2. It competes with your preferred solution. Closely related to the previous type, this category often includes proponents of other solutions to decarbonization. Sadly, this is analogous to picking a fight with someone on your own team, and can sometimes take on the heated tenor usually reserved for brawls (e.g., batteries vs hydrogen). We need a portfolio of solutions to the problem... attacking other legitimate options causes confusion and is counter-productive to the overall goal.

3. You think it's an oil and gas industry conspiracy. I admit to being taken off guard by this one having spent nearly four decades developing hydrogen systems, none of them associated with the oil & gas industry. The fact that this industry has recently begun investing in hydrogen projects as a path to transition away from legacy fossil fuels seems like a positive trend to me. Of course, any of these efforts must be assessed in terms of their lifecycle environmental and public health impacts to be certain we are heading in the right direction and not supporting 'greenwashing' projects. That said, the workforce skill sets in the oil & gas industry overlap very closely with those needed for large scale hydrogen infrastructure. Let's not throw out the baby with the dirty bathwater.

4. You are a victim of misinformation. The previous categories are largely responsible for creating this type of hydrogen hater. A primary challenge for this category is separating the signal from the noise on the topic, and then being open to changing one's mind based on facts, data, and evidence. The remainder of this post will address this challenge with some guidance on how to assess the misinformation overload when it comes to hydrogen.

Red Flags and Filters

There are a few red flags to watch for when you're reading or hearing opinions about hydrogen:

  • "I ran some calculations...". Some people seem to think if they start with a preconceived (and often self-serving) conclusion, pull together some unverified assumptions that support it, and then reverse engineer simplistic equations full of errors and omissions, they can 'prove' their case. If it hasn't been published, or at least vetted by an independent third party, be very skeptical of anything claimed by these hand wavers.
  • When someone challenges another's hydrogen claims with data and evidence, the best response is to engage in an objective discussion with the willingness to adjust both of your perspectives based on what you each learn. Compare this to bad behavior responses such as egotistical rants, personal attacks, trolling, empty sarcasm, ghosting, or continuing to repeat the same claims ad nauseum after being proven wrong. Be extremely skeptical of any information from individuals exhibiting these bad behaviors
  • Claims that any given solution is always right or always wrong. This is an easy flag. Anyone who is forever beating the same dead horse at every opportunity and refuses to acknowledge that their preferred solution isn't universally the best in all applications - or that their hated solution will never work - can safely be ignored.
Once you've checked for the red flags, here's a quick set of questions you can ask to assess the source of the information:

How long has this individual worked with the relevant hydrogen systems being discussed? (points: 3-decades, 2-years, 1-studied it, 0-none)

What data and evidence is being provided to support the claims made? (points: 3-operational or test data, 2-technical publication, 1-validated model, 0-personal opinions)

Is the individual's income, status, business, ego, or religio-political beliefs threatened by increased use of hydrogen? (points: 3-definitely not, 2-maybe, 1-probably, 0-oh hell yes)

Now add up the points. Scoring:
    6 or higher: Information from this source is worth consideration
    3 to 5: Take information from this source with a grain of salt
    Below 3: Why are you reading/listening to this person?

Matt Moran is the Managing Member at Moran Innovation LLC, and previous Managing Partner at Isotherm Energy. He's been developing power and propulsion systems for more than 40 years; and break-through liquid, slush, and gaseous hydrogen systems since the mid-1980s. Matt was also the Sector Manager for Energy & Materials in his last position at NASA where he worked for 31 years. He's been a co-founder in seven technology startups; and provided R&D and engineering support to many organizations. Matt has three patents and more than 50 publications including the Cryogenic Fluid Management series. He also leads the monthly LH2 Era™ Webinar.

Friday, October 20, 2023

LH2 Era™ Liquid Hydrogen Weekly News Summary (2023-Oct-20)

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Hydrogen Hubs, Training, and Standards



The above map shows the seven US hydrogen hub awardees announced on Oct 13th along with the proposed hydrogen facility locations. Total public and private investment in this initiative is nearly $50 billion USD.

Approximately two-thirds of that investment will be for hydrogen production via renewables and water electrolysis. The remaining investment will be in methods that use various hydrocarbons as feedstocks and capture any resulting carbon byproducts for utilization and/or storage.

There is a vociferous (and legitimate) debate about the appropriate balance among these approaches for hydrogen production. Each method has perceived advantages and disadvantages in terms of infrastructure scaling, cost reductions, and greenhouse gas impacts. As the hydrogen hubs evolve, more data will become available to assess this balance. We'll take a look at this topic in more depth in a subsequent post.

For this post, I'd like to focus on two areas where critical gaps exist relevant to the roll out of these new hydrogen hubs: training and standards. There is an urgent need for accessible knowledge and relevant workforce skills, particularly for liquid hydrogen (LH2) systems design and operations.


Experience with compressed gas hydrogen systems has grown significantly over the past several years as it has been tested and deployed in many new applications across a variety of industry sectors. The same is not true for liquid hydrogen. This is a critical issue since many of the hydrogen hubs (if not all of them) will be liquefying, storing, and/or transporting LH2.

Cryogenic liquid hydrogen know-how has historically been highly concentrated among a relatively small number of individuals and organizations. Most of this knowledge is not in the public domain, and what is available is not easily identifiable or accessible to those without LH2 experience.

I've attempted to address this knowledge transfer gap using a variety of methods and venues that are available to anyone on my Training webpage. Specific LH2 resources include (blue highlights are clickable links):
  • Workshops and courses taught at various public conferences and internally for organizations. A full set of the workshop slides is available online at no cost.
  • Webinar sessions every month that address key topics related to the design, development, and operation of integrated LH2 systems. The sessions are available for 24 hours free viewing on the first Thursday of every month.
  • LH2 library of past webinar videos and downloadable slides available with a one-year subscription or as a single session rental. This is the only resource that has a nominal fee to help defray the cost of the Vimeo platform and other free resources that have been generated with no funding support.
  • Bonus videos of key topics for getting started on the LH2 learning curve available for viewing any time at no cost.
  • Cryogenic Fluid Management report freely accessible online or available in paperback version from Amazon. This is the first report in a planned series that addresses engineering analysis, modeling, and system development and design.
  • GitHub public repository of open source cryogenic system analysis algorithms in Python and fully documented using Jupyter notebooks.
  • Excel VBA short course notes for engineering analysis and modeling with examples of LH2 system applications. A discussion of open source software tools for this purpose is also provided.

In addition to these training resources, I've also created some additional channels to provide insight into topics and news relevant to liquid hydrogen:
  • Global weekly news coverage of LH2 systems being deployed across all industry sectors. Also included are market projections, new research and development, key announcements, engineering details, and other related topics.
  • LH2 Era blog containing posts on entrepreneurship and innovation; integration and implementation; strategy and public policy; systems and modeling; training and speaking; and other topics
  • Global LH2 systems group on LinkedIn that is open to anyone to join, post, and comment on all things related to liquid hydrogen. This group also serves as a venue for continuous Q&A related to the monthly webinar sessions or any other LH2 relevant questions or issues.

While these resources only scratch the surface of what's needed for LH2 knowledge transfer and workforce training, my hope is that it provides a good starting place. Please consider using any of the above and contributing content based on your own experiences and knowledge where appropriate.


Another area where critical and urgent gaps exist relate to the development of new LH2 standards. There are a great deal of legacy standards that have been developed over the past six decades in the space and defense sector. Other important legacy standards have been developed by various industry and professional organizations over many years.

However, new applications in a variety of industry sectors and regions are driving the development of new standards. These new standards are unfortunately lagging far behind the actual design, build, and deployment of these systems in many cases. There is a need for tools that provide visibility and access to legacy standards and guidelines; integrate standards across multiple industries and organizations; and provide insight into new standards under development.

Such tools would be invaluable to LH2 system developers and standards developers alike. But it's a very difficult challenge to tackle with conventional methods. Fortunately, some new colleagues have introduced me to the potential for another approach: generative artificial intelligence (GenAI).

By curating a selected data set of the appropriate standards, and then training a dedicated GenAI with experts in LH2 systems, it is possible to create a powerful standards-based tool available to users in months instead of years. Not to replace standards, but to accelerate and enhance their development while also giving guidance to users before new or updated standards are released.

I'm currently exploring this possibility with experts in the GenAI field, with plans to reach out to other colleagues working on the relevant LH2 standards. The goal is to be able to ask an LH2 AI tool questions about a specific system under development and get detailed guidance on the standards (and their specific content) to follow for compliance and safe operations. Stay tuned...

Matt Moran is the Managing Member at Moran Innovation LLC, and previous Managing Partner at Isotherm Energy. He's been developing power and propulsion systems for more than 40 years; and break-through liquid, slush, and gaseous hydrogen systems since the mid-1980s. Matt was also the Sector Manager for Energy & Materials in his last position at NASA where he worked for 31 years. He's been a co-founder in seven technology startups; and provided R&D and engineering support to many organizations. Matt has three patents and more than 50 publications including the Cryogenic Fluid Management series. He also leads the monthly LH2 Era™ Webinar.